Litvak Devastates Second Kaunas Conference on Nazi Collaborator Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis



O P I N I O N

by Geoff Vasil

last revision 26 May 2012, 23:55.


The second conference in Kaunas on the 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister and Holocaust collaborator Juozas Ambrazevičius cum Brazaitis, held Thursday, May 24, was treated to some harsh facts presented by a living Litvak, Kovno (Kaunas) historian and Jewish tour guide Chaim Bargman.

Although Vytautas Magnus University initially agreed to and then reneged on a deal with the Lithuanian government to host the earlier “academic conference” last Saturday May 19 purely to adulate the “prime minister” of 1941, they changed their minds yet again—possibly under influence from chairman of their board of directors, former president Valdas Adamkus, who in 2011 celebrated the seventieth anniversary of the LAF fascists—and provided university resources this week for a second event announced as an open discussion event. To their great credit, they did webcast the event and have posted the video (here).

Following up on last Saturday’s May 19 “academic conference/commemoration” which was removed from VMU to the Kaunas municipality town hall under the patronage of the city’s mayor, Thursday’s event was initially stocked with the exact same personalities who delivered their paeans last Saturday to a Holocaust collaborator: a journalist named Valiušaitis; head of the Orwellian Center of the Study of the Resistance and Genocide of the Residents of Lithuania Teresė Burauskaitė; apologist historian Arūnas Bubnys; two academics from VMU itself—Prof. Viktorija Skrupskelytė and Dr. Ilona Strumickienė; and Dr. Augustinas Idzelis, a Lithuanian-American head of an expatriate Lithuanian Studies center.

Additional contenders, all serious scholars well-known within Lithuania, and not from the circle of last Saturday’s glorifiers, were added to this second event. Prof. Šarūnas Liekis and Dr. Darius Udrys appeared, along with VMU historian Prof. Egidijus Aleksandravičius. Another addition was that of Darius Kuolys (an advisor to Adamkus during his presidency).

Mere minutes before the conference was set to begin the VMU webmaster added the name of a prominent member of Kaunas’s tiny surviving Jewish community: Chaim Bargman. (A DefendingHistory.com report posted a day earlier noted that not a single representative of the Jewish community was on the then-posted program for this second Kaunas conference.)

Bargman, who actually had the last word at the “conference,” was one of the first speakers as well. He began by carefully recounting the historical facts about the Ambrazevičius “government,” including their efforts and success in murdering masses of Jews at the Seventh Fort in Kovno (the “concentration camp” which Ambrazevičius personally signed an order for on June 30, 1941).

A somewhat spineless final statement by Šarūnas Liekis, the head of the Vilnius Yiddish Institute who doesn’t speak Yiddish, was followed by Darius Udrys, who spoke out in a rather lukewarm fashion against official participation in honoring the dead Nazi collaborator, saying “…I see great defects in what the government of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis did. I believe, as I said, that the state honors […] were unnecessary, and even morally harmful, because they caused confusion among people about that government’s values. [The ceremonies] were done in a way which left the impression that there was an attempt to cover up some of the morally harmful actions of his government. And much was said here about the context in which his activity took place, the same context in which hundreds of people, as I said, risked and sacrificed their lives to save Jews and others from suffering and who faced death. I believe their heroism is what we should be honoring, and that a hero is a person who is distinguished by his bravery and aid to the innocent, and unfortunately that’s something Mr. Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis did not achieve, and that’s why I’m not convinced he should be honored in the way he was honored” (italics added).

Chaim Bargman concluded the “discussion period” by saying everyone had ignored his comments and the facts he provided concerning the culpability of the Provisional Government and Lithuanian Activist Front in carrying out the mass murder of the Jews of Lithuania, as so clearly chronicled in publicly available documents.


Related:

3 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘“Prime Minister” of Lithuania’s 1941 Nazi puppet government to be glorified, re-interred and subject of a commemorative conference at Vytautas Magnus University.

10 May 2012.  Genocide Center (Vilnius): Program of the conference to commemorate and re-inter Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, prominently featuring the 19 May conference at Vytautas Magnus University.  [English here]

11 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com:  ‘Archbishop adds his blessing to the Nazi collaborator being reburied with full honors’.

11 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘Day of shame (May 19th) can still be averted at Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas’.

13 May 2012.  Haaretz (Hebrew): ‘Pro-Nazi Lithuanian to be buried in a state ceremony’ by Ofer Aderet.

15 May 2012.  Haaretz: ‘Glorifying a Nazi collaborator in Lithuania’ by Ofer Aderet.

15 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘Text of the letter from MEP Donskis on the Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis festivities.

15 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘MEP Donskis condemns events to honor Holocaust collaborator Ambrazevičius’.

15 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘BNS report follows dramatic Donskis statement; Says event does not have VMU “Sanction”‘.

15 May 2012.  Haaretz: ‘Lithuanian university calls off memorial for pro-Nazi head of state’ by Ofer Aderet.

15 May 2012.  Forward/JTA: ‘Lithuanians scrap event for quisling leader’.

15 May 2012.  Jerusalem Post: ‘Lithuania’s shame’ by Efraim Zuroff.

16 May 2012.  15min.lt: ‘Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis’ burial reignites historic debate on Lithuania’s 1941 provisional government’ [credited to BNS].

16 May 2012.  Haaretz: ‘Lithuania reinstates event to honor Nazi collaborator’ by Ofer Aderet.

16 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘Parliament’s public relations department posts revised schedule of events to h0nor Nazi collaborator “prime minister” Juozas Ambrazevičius (Brazaitis).

17 May 2012.  The revised schedule of events to honor the memory of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis noting move of the 19 May 2012 conference from Vytautas Magnus University to the City Hall of Kaunas.

17 May 2012BBC News Europe: ‘Lithuania reburial of WWII leader angers Jewish groups.

17 May 2012.  EJP [European Jewish Press]: ‘Jews protest as Lithuania set to rebury WWII leader’.

17 May 2012.  VilNews.com: ‘Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis is no hero’ by Darius Udrys.  Republished in 15min.lt.

17 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘International Christian Assembly Directors in Lithuania Speak Out on the Glorification of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis’ [with full text of statement by Michael and Fausta Maass].

17 May 2012.  Defending History.com: ‘Want to honor the head of the 1941 Nazi puppet government? Website claims Seimas will provide free transportation’.

18 May 2012.  Kaunas Municipality: Mayor’s office announces the schedule of Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis on the municipality’s website.

18 May 2012.  15.min.lt/BNS:  After university refuses to host conference on Juozas Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis, event moves to Kaunas municipality.

18 May 2012.  Jewish Chronicle: ‘Outrage over honour for Lithuanian Nazi leader’ by Jessica Elgot.

18 May 2012.  Baltic Course: ‘Lithuania reburial of WW leader angers Jewish groups’

19 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘Tim Snyder, in Vilnius, comments publicly on the reburial and glorification of 1941 Nazi puppet prime minister’.

20 May 2012.  BNS: ‘Head of Lithuania’s provisional government buried in Kaunas’ [with quote from MEP V. Landsbergis].

20 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘Dramatic confrontation on the floor of the Lithuanian parliament’.

21 May 2012Lietuvos rytas:  ‘E. Aleksandravičius: „Perlaidodami J. Brazaitį norėjome parodyti, kad lietuvių drama dar nesibaigė“’ [interview] by Valdas Bartasevičius. [English translation, ‘Egidijus Aleksandravičius: “By reburying Brazaitis, we wanted to show that the Lithuanian drama hasn’t ended yet.” [posted on 27 May 2012]

21 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘Lithuanian newspaper accuses Kaunas rector of misleading parliament about whether he knew in advance of VMU’s planned conference to honor Nazi puppet prime minister’.

21 May 2012.  Haaretz: ‘Lithuanian synagogue vandalized after commemoration of Nazi collaborator’ by Ofer Aderet.

21 May 2012.  Forward: ‘Amid quisling furor, Lithuanian shul defaced’.

21 May 2012.  Algemeiner Journal: ‘An open letter to Yale history professor Timothy Snyder’ by Dovid Katz.

21 May 2012.  EJP: ‘Lithuanian Nazi collaborator granted official reburial, despite Jewish protest’ by AFP and EJP.

22 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘”Take off your hat. This is not the synagogue”‘ by Vilhjálmur Örn Vilhjálmsson.

22 May 2012 JTA: ‘Lithuanian synagogue vandalized following memorial for wartime PM’.

23 May 2012.  YNet: ‘Jews protest as Lithuania set to rebury WWII leader’ by Levi Brackman and Rivkah Lubitch.

23 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘VMU in Kaunas sinking further into Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis morass, as historians join glorifiers for yet another event’.

24 May 2012.  Jewish Chronicle: ‘Lithuanian youth head backs Nazi leader’ by Jane Whyatt.

25 May 2012.  EJP [European Jewish Press]: ‘Russian Jewry dismisses state reburial of Lithuanian Nazi collaborator as “blasphemous”’.

25 May 2012.  EJP [European Jewish Press]: ‘Russian Jewry dismisses state reburial of Lithuanian Nazi collaborator as “blasphemous”’.

26 May 2012.  DefendingHistory.com: ‘A Litvak devastates second Kaunas conference on Nazi collaborator Ambrazevičius-Brazaitis’ by Geoff Vasil.



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